The Chicken Salad Chick, Auburn AL

This is Marie, contributing a story about a very special specialty store and restaurant. The Chicken Salad Chick is a chain that is slowly expanding through the southeast, and on a recent trip to Auburn, Alabama, we visited the original location. Each of the main menu items except the pimento cheese is some variety of chicken salad. There is a limited selection of sides. The combination I picked was “Fruity Fran” and “Olivia’s Old South” with a side of fruit intended for the boy, who came with us on the two-hour drive from our house to “the Plains” in eastern Alabama. Each of the salads that has a name is linked to a real person in the life of Stacy Brown, the owner and inventor of these delicious recipes.

Ms. Brown was going gangbusters out of her home kitchen and doing a lot of thinking about starting a restaurant when she was informed of something many people don’t know, which is that the health department frowns on home kitchens as professional food prep sites. They don’t take on the school brownie sales and the like because those are temporary, but hers was a very rapidly expanding business – probably because the product was so good! The “About Us” page of her site includes a thank you to the person who turned her in to the Health Department, because it got her restaurant started sooner than it might otherwise have.

Although our server was named Olivia, she said she was not the eponymous Olivia of the salad that I ordered, as she was not a fan of that particular flavor due to the egg in it; she offered a taste to help me decide between selections which was very helpful. Normally, when I go somewhere that has a recipe named after the owner or business, I like to get it on the idea that since it’s got the reputation of the business on the plate with the food, it must be one of the best things they have. However, I knew I wanted the salad with the grapes and apples because those go so well, and there were so many other delicious options. Grant, who was planning to eat at our next destination, had a sample of the “Jalapeno Holly” flavor and loved it, vowing to have that on a sandwich when we visit one of the chain’s stores in the Atlanta area soon.

I was vastly entertained to see that one of my alternate selections, Dixie Chick, is labeled online as “Our “most offensive salad” definitely for the onion lover.” My relationship with onions changed as a result of my pregnancy, during which I wanted onions but could barely taste them and therefore assaulted my long-suffering family with monstrously excessive quantities of them. I will definitely have to try it sometime and see what my reconstructed tastebuds think of it.

You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s a terrific resource for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!

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